Thursday, September 28, 2006

PSA-vergaming with the American Cancer society

In my never ending search to find new and exciting advergames I stumbled across the website for Singularity Design. One of the websites featured games is called the Smokeout Cafe and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). The game is based more on a PSA rather than an advertisement. In the game players fling orange wristbands at cigarettes floating around a bar type area. The more cigarettes you hit, the more points you get.


The purpose of the bands is to raise money for the ACS. In my opinion, this is a this was a great marketing decision by the ACS. By using a computer game to promote the wristbands the ACS has put a lighter spin on a very serious subject. People will get plenty of exposure to the wristbands as those are what players use to score points in the games. And the game itself doesn't stray from its main purpose, to cut down on smoking. I am also impressed that the game includes a call to action in the form of a link at the bottom of the page where users can order there own orange wristbands to help promote a smokefree environment. Smokeout Cafe also includes a link that gives smokers a list of reasons to quit, helping to drive the point of the advergame. On top of that, the game includes a link where players can send the game to a friend helping the game achieve viral marketing which in my opinion is one of the biggest reasons an advergame succeeds (but that's a whole other blog).

Smokeout Cafe conveys a very important and at times grim message. Many PSAs for television regarding the same subject try to use scare tactics or an emotional appeal. Smokeout Cafe on the other hand take a more light hearted approach. This lighthearted and clever games will be just as successful, if not more successful, then some TV PSAs, at getting people to take action and either quit smoking or at least buy some of the orange wristbands. If done cleverly, other organizations with PSA type messages could utilize the advergaming community to get their cause noticed and to get people to take action.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Skyworks Technology is one of the pioneers in what it calls "the casual gaming industry." Skyworks has a relatively new website called Rcade.com. The first thing that struck my about the games on Rcade.com were that I couldn't find the advertisements inside the games which led me to wonder whether or not this was actually an advergaming site. But then it hit me, just because the advertisements aren't in the game doesn't mean they aren't there. Rcade.com advertises by including banners on its home page and on each of its games as well as the occasional pop-up. For some strange reason I liked this format. Id rather play online ping-pong while looking at a banner that is separate from the game instead of playing ping-pong while trying to figure out what table tennis and Skittles have in common.


Another feature of Rcade.com that I like was that people were able to register. Members of the website are eligible for weekly and monthly sweepstakes as well as the ability to play "Members Only" games. Member also receive an Rcade.com newsletter as well as updates. Another member feature is the concept of "badges." The more games a person plays and are successful at the more badges they win. People can post and track their badges to compare themselves to other gamers out in cyberland. I think that the membership concept is a perfect fit for Rcade.com. It encourages people to continue to play games and return to Rcade and gives them competition against other players. Having spent a considerable amount of time playing the games at Rcade.com I have no doubts that people are excited to sign up, play, and compete.

Monday, September 18, 2006

VW and Beckham Team Up

I was looking through some advergames in the Adverblog archives and there was one game that caught my attention. The game is the David Beckham Academy Touran Challenge and was created in the UK. The purpose of the website is to promote Volkswagen's new mini van called the Touran. The website featured a contest in which the winner got to spend a day with David Beckham at his training camp (the competition has since been over). The website also features three mini-games. Although quite simple, the mini-games themselves impressed me. Gamers actually get to control David Beckham. The video technology actually made Beckham move right, move left, and kick the ball in sychronization with the mouse and keyboard action.



While as a gamer I was impressed with the Touran Challenge. As an advertiser, I was a little confused. The Touran, being a mini-van, seems that its target market would be mothers, whereas this website seems to be geared towards kids around the age of 10 to 15. Perhaps it is because I am not well informed about the English market but I wouldn't think most mothers would be interested in spending a day training with David Beckham or playing online computer soccer games. As each game is loading a feature (like air conditioning and traction control) of the Touran is displayed. I can't see very many kids who are playing this game who would tell their moms about the Touran's great anti-locking break systems.

I read this article about VW and Beckham's partnership. The overall partnership has good intentions in that it supports "a series of initiatives designed to promote out-of-school sports activities for children, while encouraging parents to take an active role in the development of their children’s sporting aspirations." It also makes sense for the most part in that "Volkswagen hopes to give children of any ability the opportunity to participate in and train at The David Beckham Academy" by providing free transportation to school children to the academy. I am however skeptical about the effectivenesss of the partnerships advergames, and specifically who the games are targeting.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Incorporating products into advergames

I spent the afternoon playing some advergames at the Blockdot. I played most of the featured games on the websites homepage and although they were all somewhat entertaining there was one big difference between the “good” advergames and the “bad” advergames. In the good games participants actually used the product that the company is advertising in the games whereas in the bad games it seemed like the advertising company is just sponsoring the game, the product isn’t even used as part of the game.


My two favorite games that I played on Blockdot are the M&M’s Flip the Mix and Omaha Steaks Presents Chef Toss. The M&M games probably does the best job in incorporating its product into the game. Players must align actual M&Ms into rows or columns of three or more on a grid, once aligned the M&Ms o alike color disappear and new randomly colored M&Ms take their place. While the game is simple enough the constant grid changing candy-covered chocolates is constant and fun reminder to eat M&Ms. A word of warning though, playing this game may result in consuming a copious amount of M&Ms.

Omaha Steaks Presents Chef Toss is good but not quite as effective as the M&M game. The game takes place at a barbeque in which the chef must toss Omaha meat products to guests while avoid pesky animals trying to get a taste. While the animation in the game is amusing, the game could do a better job of identifying the meat products as Omaha Steaks instead of using simple drawings. This would reinforce the company name and in turn improve brand recognition and awareness.

Probably the worst game I played at Blackdot was K.T.’s Impossi-bubble Adventure. Perhaps the games fault lies with its sponsor, Kotex. How do you make a game about tampons? Luckily the game didn’t feature any feminine hygiene products, which in my opinion, defeats the purpose. While I do appreciate Kotex trying to branch into new advertising avenues with an advergame, I don’t think that it’s the right way to go for that particular product. The games plot is about a young girl, K.T, who is trying to get back her journal in some sort of bubble that was stolen by here evil little bother. Maybe its because I am not of the female gender but I cannot figure out how this game promotes Kotex. If you can figure it out please let me know.

If you’d like to play these games or any other games at Blackdot go to http://games.blackdot.com and tell me what your opinions are.

Happy Advergaming.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

We have lift off...

Hello and welcome to my first blog. As you may or may not have figured out by now this particular blog is about advergaming. From what I can tell most people associate advergames with little computer games on the internet that promote a certain company or product. However, I think advergaming goes back farther than that. For example, do you remember playing the little games on the back of cereal boxes? In a sense those games accomplish the same goal as online advergames, which is to prolonged exposure to a product or company, ultimatly increasing brand recognition. Despite this, I plan on using most of my future posts talking about online advergames although I am always interested in learning about new and innovative non-internet advergames.

Currently, my favorite place to find advergames is www.addictinggames.com. While not all of its games are advertisements, like the URL suggests all the games are addicting. Etnies has a great game on the website called Downhill Jam. The game speaks directly to a target market and creativly incorporates Etnies products into the games. Don't believe me? Play Downhill Jam yourself by clicking here.